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USG passes initial step of elections management reform, approves fall budget

<h5>USG members discuss a resolution to establish a Deputy Elections Manager at the Sept. 25 meeting.</h5>
<h6>Annie Rupertus / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
USG members discuss a resolution to establish a Deputy Elections Manager at the Sept. 25 meeting.
Annie Rupertus / The Daily Princetonian

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senate approved its fall budget and passed the first of two votes on a resolution to establish a Deputy Elections Manager (DEM) position during its meeting on Sunday, Sept. 25.

The senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution after it was slightly adjusted following a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7 in which senate members raised a number of concerns about the initial proposal. The resolution was put forward in an effort to provide more support to the student serving as Chief Elections Manager (CEM), a role that was under pressure last spring in the midst of controversy over vote-counting procedures pertaining to a referendum.

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“There were a lot of concerns about feedback from our [CEM], which I now believe has all been resolved,” said USG Senator Walker Penfield ’25 when reintroducing the resolution in this week’s meeting.

Campus and Community Affairs (CCA) Chair Isabella Shutt ’24 explained that — upon receiving feedback from CEM Brian Li ’24 — the resolution was changed so that the CEM would still be responsible for running the election rules meetings. USG candidates or referendum advocates are supposed to still understand the CEM as the primary point person for issues that arise during elections. 

The updated resolution also allows for email inboxes to be a shared responsibility between the CEM and DEM. The DEM position will not go into effect until Jan. 30, 2023, to coincide with the start of the next USG administration.

According to Article 11 of the USG Senate Constitution, “The Senate may amend this Constitution by a 2/3 vote at 2 consecutive meetings.” Having passed one of these two votes, if a second vote passes at a future meeting, USG will have two appointed elections managers at all times as opposed to the previous model of one appointed CEM with the option to choose additional elections managers or not.

The senate also voted unanimously to pass the proposed budget for the fall semester, which totals $250,016. 

USG Movies Committee Chair Addele Hargenrader ’24 also fielded questions from the senate about this semester’s $22,000 movies budget, explaining that the movies committee has shifted towards screening more new movies at the Garden Theater, which necessitates a per-student cost as opposed to a flat rate for reruns. She noted the past two weekends’ movie showings have been well-attended with about 100 students per night.

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USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23 also clarified that while the original budget proposal included a $20,000 reserve in the event that the senate would need to hold a bonfire this year, this number was amended to $10,000 following conversations with University administrators.

With these edits to the budget, $29,516 of reserve money remains, not including the bonfire allocation.

The senate also heard a number of updates from committee chairs and smaller projects.

Shutt gave a report on the Tigers in Town program, which now includes a check-in table and relaxation station at Hinds Plaza in front of the Princeton Public Library where participating students must pick up tickets. This week’s vendors include Small World Coffee and Olives on Wednesday, Terra Momo and Bread Boutique on Thursday, and Halo Pub and Junbi on Friday; students can only sign up for one restaurant per week. 

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Shutt also requested that students fill out the town of Princeton’s Community Master Plan student survey.

USG heard from the Student Groups Recognition Committee (SGRC) Chair Derek Nam ’23 about eight recently-approved student organizations: Generational African American Students Association, K-Femme (a no-cut K-pop dance group for female-identifying students), Princeton Association of Women in STEM, Princeton Biotechnology Group, Princeton Intercultural Students of America, Princeton University Economic Development Organization, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and TigerApps.

TigerApps — known for such projects as ReCal, Princeton Courses, and TigerSnatch — has already existed on campus for some time but is now seeking official recognition “so [it] can apply for funding as [its] own entity,” according to Nam.

USG Senators Ned Dockery ’25 and Penfield reported that about 300 students read the First-Year Student Experience Committee’s guide for incoming first-years. “We were really happy to see that level of engagement,” Dockery said.

Academics Chair Austin Davis ’23 presented a debrief of this year’s Academic Expo, which he noted was the “first in-person Academic Expo since [he] was a first-year.” He said the event received positive feedback, though the senate did discuss some concerns related to foot traffic at the event, the availability of student representatives before the upperclassmen move-in date, and more broadly, the timing of the expo within a jam-packed orientation schedule.

Takeuchi gave an update on the Ad Hoc Committee for Data Analytics, which the Senate Executive Committee established on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The committee is set to expire on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023.

USG Senate meetings are held in Betts Auditorium in the School of Architecture at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons and are open to all.

Annie Rupertus is a sophomore from Philadelphia and a News staff writer who covers USG for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at arupertus@princeton.edu or @annierupertus on Instagram and Twitter.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the referendum to establish a Deputy Elections Manager had passed the USG Senate. In fact, it had only passed one of two votes needed to amend the USG Senate Constitution. The ‘Prince’ regrets this error.

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